What is the course about?
We will explore twentieth-century history through the lives of radicals. At the first session there will be distributed a list of other biographies the group may find useful in selecting future books to discuss. Additional suggestions from the group will be very welcome. Please consider before suggesting a biography not only the biographer and subject but also the accessibility of the biography (availability, length, cost).
Before first session, please read our first text: Mussolini, R.J. B. Bosworth (Bloomsbury Academic, 2010)
'R J B Bosworth's fine biography is a worthy addition to the existing literature on Mussolini. Always readable, Bosworth is very clear about his political allegiances - this book, he states, "is self-consciously anti-fascist in its intent". Yet the author's encyclopaedic knowledge of previous works allows him to deal with the mass of revisionist literature and not simply to dismiss the dictator as an accident of history, or to underestimate the extent of his popularity in Italy, especially in the 1930s.' The Guardian.
What will we cover?
In each session, through discussion, we will cover 3 general areas. What does the biography tell us about:
1) the subject of the text- his/her character, achievements, legacy.
2) the era in which the individual lived
3) the biographer- his/her interests, bias, strengths, etc.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
1) Read books you may not have considered before
2) Critically evaluate the character and achievements of the individuals explored in each session
3) Place these individuals in their historical context
4) Identify key political, social and cultural changes during the 18th - 20th centuries
5) Express your opinion clearly.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course- no previous knowledge of 20th century history is required. However you will need:
1) An enthusiasm for reading non-fiction and disccussing texts in large and small groups
2) A willingness and abillity to read and prepare outside the class. You will be expected to read the
selected biography for each session. Please note that political biographies are generally at least 400 pages.
3) An interest in European and world history
4) An interest in, and ability to listen to, the responses of other students to the work discussed.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each session will discuss a biography selected from a list offered at the beginning of the course.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will be expected to obtain a copy of the biographies to be read. The group will be encouraged to choose recent
biographies available in paperback for a modest price.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
For further details about other courses on European or world history, please see the college website: www.citylit.ac.uk.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details